It’s the start of a 4 round workout that kicks off with a 400 meter run every round. Your best mile time is 8 minutes, and when the Coach calls “3, 2, 1, Go!”, you haul out behind the high school track kid and come back in a minute and a half. Uh-oh.
I use running as an example because I think it’s the one that’s easiest to see it on when a group just all takes off together at an entirely to aggressive pace, but it can really be with anything. The loading on bar or dumbbell, or how quickly you pick up a medicine ball or jump back on the rig all because the person next to you did it sooner. It’s the group aspect of CrossFit that comes with tons of benefits of pushing the intensity and wanting to drive yourself to be better thanks to those around you, but it can cloud that the only real measure is you against yourself.
It can be hard to remember when you’re literally lining up against a dozen other people, that you’re not racing them you’re racing yourself. Everyone is doing a similar workout for the most part, but everyone is getting something different out of it. Just this week there was a class WOD with deadlifts and running, and there were so many different intentions from each person to the next, despite it looking like everyone was doing the same thing. Some people had gotten comfortable using the same deadlift weight every time they came up, so they went a little heavier and didn’t worry so much about the run pace. Others didn’t think of the weight, but ran further than usual to test out a distance they haven’t been comfortable with in the past.
Everyone started on the same clock, but they all started very different workouts when it comes to a personal focus. If someone trying to push the load on the bar attempted to keep up on the run with someone else who was focused on a faster than normal running pace then they would have been in real trouble on the bar. The same goes for vice versa if the runner were to see someone loading up a heavier bar and feel as though they needed to compete by going heavier also. In both examples athletes were focused on the intention of pushing themselves out of their established comfort zones, but getting caught up in the others workout would have taken away from their own.
The people around you are there for motivation and camaraderie, not as a standard for you to meet. Some people can run faster and further, others can lift heavier, and some can walk on their hands. The goal isn’t to beat them, that’s an unmaintainable mentality. The goal is to come in and do something to make yourself better than you saw yourself this morning, or yesterday, or last month, or last year.